Type: Trad, 150 ft (45 m), 2 pitches
FA: Wayne Merry and Mike Borghoff (1958)
Page Views: 3,709 total · 24/month
Shared By: Bryan G on Apr 5, 2011
Admins: Mike Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer Ski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Description Suggest change

The two pinnacles for which this cliff is named are rarely climbed due to the difficult approach and their lack of visibility from the base of the cliff. Pat Pinnacle is technically 2 pitches and 5.7, but the approach will likely require you to rope up for several more pitches and climb terrain up to 5.9.

Approach option 1: Climb Nurdle (or one of the routes near it). At the top of the second pitch you have a couple 4th class options leading up to the base of the pinnacle. There are also a couple new bolts protecting a short section of face climbing (5.10-) up and right of the anchors which will avoid a bit of bushwhacking. At the base of the pinnacle there are a couple options. There is a left-leaning flake called The Knife (5.11b). There is also a 5.9 to the left which gradually widens from thin to offwidth and has a rope fixed at the bottom. The Knife looked too hard, and the 5.9 had a thick trail of ants marching all the way down the crack, so we opted to scramble down and right to link up with approach option 2.

Approach option 2: Climb Desperate Straights. At the top of the second pitch is a steep and loose gully. This gully will link up with approach option 1 if you wish to climb one of those routes. Otherwise, climb the face up and left of the Desperate Straights anchors. There are a series of small ledges making it go at easy 5th class. Once you're on the ramp traverse left a ways to reach a right facing corner with a wide hands crack in it. This section is a little dirty but otherwise pretty fun. At the top of the crack it's more 4th class with plenty of steep bushwhacking to reach the base of the route.

Approach option 3: This is sort of a theoretical approach, as I have never done it. I'm assuming this approach exists because the previous two options all involve climbing routes that had not been climbed until many years after the first ascent of Pat Pinnacle. Hike up the hill past Sherrie's Crack et al. On the far left side of this buttress, the topo in the Reid guide shows a 3rd class gully leading up to the base of the pinnacle. Be aware that "3rd class" is maybe the most sandbagged grade in Yosemite, and rope up as needed. From here I really have no idea which way the first ascent went. The hand crack near the right end of this ledge system (see approach option 2) goes at only 5.7 or 5.8 depending on the size of your mitts. Or perhaps they aided the thin 5.9 crack (see approach option 1) directly up the wall.

The Climb

Pitch 1 (5.7, 80 ft): If you did one of the approaches correctly, you should be looking up at a flared squeeze chimney on the right side of the pinnacle. This is your route. Just to the right of the chimney are some various other cracks and flakes with a big tree growing out of them about 60 feet up. These cracks go at about 5.10 and can be used as a direct start to Jack Pinnacle, or to access a 5.11a thin crack called Flailing Dog.

So up the chimney you go. The crux is a tight section right off the deck. Luckily there are some good holds on the face which keep the climbing in the 5.7 range. It's really "old school" 5.7 though. A #6 Camalot, or the equivalent, protects the crux pretty well. There is also an ancient bolt which isn't worth clipping, but a fun look into the history of our sport. The chimney is nice and secure once you're in it. It gets more flared about half way up and you can stick a sort of under-cammed #5 in the back if you want. There is a ledge near the top with a roof above. There's some more options for small gear here too. You want to chimney out and around the roof/chockstones. You should finish the pitch above your belayer's head, don't tunnel through to the other side of the formation. The belay ledge is big and flat with 2 new bolts. It's also in the shade most of the day which makes it an ideal place to hang out on warmer days.

Pitch 2 (5.7, 50 ft): Pat Pinnacle is the shorter one in front of Jack Pinnacle. You want to chimney up the notch a short ways and then climb the northwest face of the pinnacle past two shiny new bolts and a newly replaced anchor.


From the ledge at the notch (top of pitch 1), rappel down the south-east face of Pat Pinnacle. Either rappel to some trees to the right or swing out left to another bolted anchor. From the bolted anchor it's a 35 meter rap to the ledge at the base of the pinnacle. Once on the ledge you can either rappel off some trees heading back down towards Knob Job and Nurdle, or scramble down the gully to the right to reach the anchors atop Desperate Straights. Either way be very careful to not send any loose rocks flying down towards the often crowded cliffs below. You can also reverse the 3rd class gully to the left (see approach option 3) if you came up that way and didn't find it too miserable.

Protection Suggest change

Pro to 6". Extra big stuff if you want to sew up the 5.7 chimney.